I have spent a fair bit of time over the year or so exploring a sizeable natural area, in west central Lambton Co, known as Bickford Oak Woods Conservation Reserve. It is about 308 ha in size as a single block of mostly forest. This property was purchased several decades ago on speculation that it would be eventually developed for commercial/industrial purposes. However that didn't happen, and while I was in my previous role with OMNR, I was approached by the owners to see if any agency would be interested in it. I had had my eye on the significance of this property for quite awhile, so I said yes, and immediately started some wheels in motion to see if a cooperative effort between conservation agencies and individuals could collaborate on its acquisition and protection.
Much of the natural drainage has not been affected, so on this predominantly clay plain, that means there is lots of water sitting on it.
As might be expected, wet woods are home to many amphibians, which are most vocal in the early spring. Here is a Western Chorus Frog, one of the more common species here, but generally declining on the overall southern Ontario landscape. It is a tiny frog, being only a couple of inches in total length. Their voices would make them seem much bigger, however.
At some points along the wetter woods, good stands of Marsh Marigold can be found in the spring.
Where there is long standing water and an open forest canopy, there are beaver. Their lodges are hard to access due to the dense vegetation, mostly the aggressive and non-native Phragmites, but there is evidence of their being in the area.
Still other oaks, especially some that are near the edges of the woodland, are single stemmed and show an open grown character, with large low limbs.
Along the edges are some huge ant mounds. I'm not sure if they are any particular species, but they sure are evident. Some of the mounds are a metre high, and 3-4 metres in diameter.
Associated with this large woodland are two areas that at the time that the site was acquired, was in agricultural crop. They were planted into tallgrass prairie about a decade ago, and are coming along nicely.
|Planted prairie habitat|
|Thistle with Crab Spider|
|Peck's Skipper on Prairie Dock buds|
|Great Spangled Fritillary|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail|
There is lots more to be found at this wonderful site, and I plan on spending as much time as possible in this next field season.